Got a broken heart? Then lift some weights and call your doctor in the morning. Everybody LOVES doing aerobic training. From running to spinning to cross training classes alike. Feeling the heart rate elevate, lungs burn and sweat pour gives many the perception they are doing the best thing for health, heart and fitness. This is true to some degree of course. But research has shown that strength training can elicit some similar and some unique heart benefits that aerobics cannot. Here are 4 of those benefits.
LOWER BLOOD PRESSURE
Research from Appalachian State shows strength training lowers blood pressure both in the shirt and long term. Strength training increases blood flow throughout your whole body including limbs. This gives the heart more places to push the blood flow thereby reducing pressure on arterial walls.
HIGHER HDL COUNT
Fatty substances such as triglycerides and cholesterol clog arteries leading to heart attacks and strokes. Both cardiovascular and strength training exercise stand to reduce both these fatty substances in the blood stream. Strength training not only helps reduce serum levels, but it also has shown to increase high density lipo-proteins known as ” good cholesterol.” High HDL levels are associated with improved heart health. A 2013 study demonstrated young men who lifted weights regularly had better functioning HDL compared to those who do not.
LESS FAT AROUND THE HEART
There are two kinds of fat, subcutaneous that sits right underneath the skin and visceral fat which surrounds organs, even the heart. In a study done in 2015 strength training was shown to have a bigger impact on reducing visceral fat than aerobic exercise. The study followed 10,500 men for a 12 year period who performed strength training for 20 minutes per day. They were compared to a similar amount of men who performed cardiovascular training for the same amount of time. The results were an increased metabolic rate leading to a decrease in visceral fat above what the cardiovascular group achieved.
Something I’ve been trying to get people to realize is that strength training will improve sleeping patterns. My own experience has been restless and poor sleeping when performing aerobic training on a regular basis. It’s just the opposite when I strength train though. Sleep deprivation triggers inflammation that causes cellular damage to the cardiovascular system. Poor sleep patterns are linked to poor insulin sensitivity, poor fat metabolism which increases visceral fat. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning shows strength training improved sleep, a greater improvement was seen even more when performed in the evening.
In conclusion, our program is built around strength training. Almost all the exercises we do involve using ” core” muscles either from a stability or strength stand point. It’s designed this way because it really is the best way to train for lifelong fitness and heart health. Happy Valentine’s Day everyone. I hope you have some strength training planned to celebrate.